Many families are fearing the coming winter

At around 9pm on Tuesday, when the heavens opened and the celestial beings tipped the buckets over Galway, it was a minor inconvenience to us all and to the thousands of tourists who are currently spending their holidays here. To some it was the soft Irish rain that’s good for the complexion, but for hundreds of householders across the county, it sent a dart of pain across their minds and brought them back to last winter when the pitter patter splish splashin’ saw their homes turned into a watery hell, forcing many of them to flee and leave behind all of the things that they had worked so hard to put together.

Homes are so much more than mere houses. Homes are where people come together with a common purpose, where every ornament and stick of furniture is individually picked to commemorate some event or, in most cases, when money can allow it. The construction of a home takes time and commitment — and to see it all swept away in a few days is heartbreaking.

I have spoken to many families who have been affected by the flooding. They have had to leave their homes and still do not know when they can get back. Their children have to watch on as skiploads of toys have to remain untouched because amazingly almost a year later, insurance companies have not yet dealt with many of the claims, prevaricating and prolonging the hell for people who are, after all, supposed to be their clients.

People in Gort in particular were shocked to see the floodwaters rising on Tuesday after what was only a short, but admittedly intense rain shower. Thankfully, the waters receded, but this was after just one heavy shower. You can be almost certain that we will have such rain for days on end, come wintertime. And so the nightmare continues and families feel nothing is being done.

When the races end next week, we are on the downward slide into the winter months. There are only 110 shopping days left until Christmas, but the prospect of facing the first anniversary of those floods is depressing for many families. With last Christmas ruined, will this year’s be any better. Can their children look forward to waking up in their own homes on Christmas morn, or will their parents have to constantly look towards the skies with an air of anxiety?

There is some relief in store for some families in Galway this week with the news that work is to start within months on alleviating the problem along the River Clare. However, if it will be enough to stem the tide this winter remains to be seen. The widening of the bridge at Claregalway will undoubtedly cause some traffic inconvenience on what is already a bottleneck, but it is necessary if we are to avoid the scenes of last winter. When will there be similarly good news for the south of the county and in Menlo? Who knows. However the plight of these people cannot be ignored in what is supposed to be a modern civilised state.

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